Binaural beats

For a while during undergrad, I had been interested in binarual beats and exploring what some people called ‘brainwave synchronization.’ (As a caveat, I am not a neuroscientist nor do I really understand any of the supposed reasons for the claims of benefits of listening to binaural beats.) Supposedly, I had read that taking something like Gnaural, my beat generator of choice, and combining it with some sort of synchronized lighting (of which I used to have a program that I downloaded years ago but can no longer find) effects allowed for one to enter meditative states due to the way the beats in the sounds interacted with the listener’s brainwaves. Now, I never actually experienced any different states of consciousness, but it did make for interesting thinking time. I found it hard to not focus on the difference in pitch, but perhaps that was due to my music training. I cannot really say.

The actual noise machine did not stand out to me so much as the claims of the listeners and the multifaceted experience that you had to arrange. In many ways, I thought creating this sort of experience was almost akin to creating a personalized installation piece.  One definite pro to this generator is that it is licensed under creative commons and, as such, is open-source and free to download. It is also cross-platform, fairly easy to use, small in size, and allows for a decent range of customization of the experience. (There’s even a compact Java applet version that you can run in any browser with the appropriate plugin.) One of the weaknesses of it is that it is only part of the experience. A new user needs to either build their own dreamachine or find a separate program to run to create the visual stimuli. It would be nice to have an integrated stroboscopic tool that allowed for that. Other than that, there is not much else I can think of to improve this very odd noise machine.

– Jorge Padrón


One thought on “Binaural beats

  1. Hey Jorge,

    I am also interested in binaural beats… I first became aware of the concept a long time ago with the Monroe Institute’s Hemi-Sync technique. While I have not had much luck with the commercial binaural beats, I have experienced altered states of consciousness via the flicker effect. Check out the Dreamachine section of the Brion Gysin website:

    They have links to make your own Dreamachine (not that difficult) or you can simply try the online version:

    You could probably make/modify a helmet and insert a smart phone playing the online stroboscopic visuals?

    What you refer to above as a “personalized installation piece” was considered “the end of art” by Gysin.


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